Communicating health research (39) Q3. Role of researchers (2)

16 September, 2022

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Thank you all for your contributions to date. As an aide-memoire, here are the five guiding questions:

1. What do we mean by ‘Effective communication of health research to policymakers?’ How do we measure it?

2. What are the different approaches to communicating research (eg academic journals, policy briefs, interaction with policymakers, press releases, social media, infographics, use of video)? What is your experience with these approaches? What works and what doesn't?

3. What is the role of researchers in research communication, beyond publication of their paper? What is the role of other stakeholders (eg communication professionals, editors, media, public health professionals and critical thinkers)

4. What are the needs and preferences of policymakers?

5. What can be done to better support researchers in the communication of health research?

We are especially keen to hear examples from your own experience as a researcher, policymaker or any other perspective.

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And you can contribute by sending an email here:

Note: The above questions are for guidance only. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of health research communication. *We are especially keen to hear examples from your own experience as a researcher, policymaker or any other perspective.* For example, as a researcher, do you feel that your work has been considered in policymaking? Has it had an impact on policy and practice?

On this last point, a few people have suggested the aim is to change policy and practice. I'm not sure about this. 'Pushing' the findings of primary research to change policy and practice is not always the best way forward. There may be times when a primary study is, on its own, sufficient and compelling, but I suspect more often policy and practice should be based on research synthesis. Powerful communication of primary research direct to policymakers has the potential to distort rather than inform policy. What do you think?

Best wishes, Neil

Joint Coordinator, HIFA Communicating health research

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA,

Working in official relations with WHO